Email – what’s wrong with it?

Many have written on the issues that email causes, here are some highlights:

  • Email soaks up time – e.g. McKinsey in 2012 reckoned 30% of average office worker’s week was spent reading and answering email
  • … makes people feel they are being productive (when they are not)
  • … locks up information in silos – a lot of company knowledge creation is carried out in email threads visible only to those involved, and almost impossible for anyone else to discover, leading to duplication of work,
  • … is exclusive, with conversations only open to those who the sender sought to include
    • which can lead to lower quality work, because the conversation does not necessarily include the right people
    • and which completely prevents
  • … is intrusive – when you send me an email you force my attention to your issue, interrupting my thoughts
  • … is a terrible way to share lists of actions (especially if they are buried in an email chain
  • … spawns and propagates some of the worst forms of office politics with the use of cc and bcc

Lastly, no list of the things wrong with email would be a complete without a reference to Luis Suarez and his six+ year experiment on living and working without email. A good place to start is his summary post “Life without email – year 6, weeks 21 to 24

Communication, Collaboration and Community


A placeholder for some areas where I want to refresh my knowledge of current thinking

  • Communication, collaboration and community in online networks – what builds social capital? And what else?
  • Gamification as a tool for motivating productive behaviour in online networks
  • The factors that balance individual skill / knowledge with social capital within organisations and professions


Back to basics

A blog redesign, and a metaphor for 2014…

I decided a while ago that my blog theme had become just too complicated – over the years I had added more and more “good ideas” until the page was utterly swamped in widgets.

So I’m trying to get back to basics with a stripped down theme. Perhaps it will stimulate me to write a bit more?

The complete lack of posts in 2013, and almost complete lack in 2012, are a reflection of what was going on in my professional life. During 2012 the organisation I had been with for two years folded, only to rise again in the form of a management buyout. We’ve had a great start, and are thriving now. My personal challenge has been to bootstrap an information infrastructure from almost nothing – we started with a legacy database and the laptops we bought from the administrators, nothing else, not even an internet connection for the first  month.

Thanks to a cloud-first strategy we have made huge leaps forward, and the business is doing well. Basic collaboration tooling has all been delivered using public cloud offerings, and we are in the middle of migrating our core line of business app to a SAAS platform.

“Back to basics” has become a mantra, as we seek to deliver as much as we can with a close eye on costs. it’s also become something of a personal theme – in the face of necessity I have had to get closer to the technology than I had been for years in other management jobs. I have found that writing code is deeply satisfying, I have rediscovered my inner Builder. (In the spirit of “cobbler’s children”, that also means this site will be highly-lacking in fancy code-ness!).

In a more reflective mood this has led me to wonder why we so often associate “seniority” with becoming distant from the tools of the job? In large organisations it makes sense that as the volume of resources you have to manage becomes larger you spend time managing teams of teams of teams. But I’d argue that in the SME world a different sort of technology leader is needed – I think it’s much more like being the Chief Engineer of a ship – you have limited resources, but you still have to make the thing work, and keep working. Sometimes that’s about finding the right partners, and managing them well, but sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and write the thing yourself!

“Back to basics” is also a reminder to myself of the simple processes that keep work flowing and a sense of control – Kanban and GTD in particular.

Links for 2012-11-23

Bookmarks I’ve shared on 2012-11-23:

Links for 2012-11-22

Bookmarks I’ve shared on 2012-11-22:

Links for 2012-11-20

Bookmarks I’ve shared on 2012-11-20:

Links for 2012-11-19

Bookmarks I’ve shared on 2012-11-19: